Friday, February 18, 2011
Waiting? A Few Ideas to Help You Wait Well
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
Waiting is hard for most of us. In fact, we live in a world that promotes an instant-mindset through almost every advertisement you see or hear: Act now! Get what you want when you want it! From instant oatmeal to eyeglasses “in about an hour,” we get confused when we have to wait for things to happen in our own lives.
When things seem to take too long for our own liking, instant gratification replaces waiting, and we may take matters into our own hands. Bad idea.
We try to make something happen because you don’t know what to do with the spaces in life—like the interim gap between, say, the guy who just left and the next one to come into your life. Sometimes we wait for guidance, direction, or answers—or we don’t—and pay the consequences.
If waiting is a given, then we must decide if we will wait on God, and learn to wait well, or force things to happen on our own and downright disobey. Either way, we will deal with the results.
For instance, if you drive through a red stoplight, another car could careen through the intersection and hit you, harming you and wrecking your car.
Or, if you start another romantic relationship without waiting on God’s timing, you’d carry the unhealed pain with you and you won’t be able to give and receive love in the most stable or emotionally healthy way possible. You may end up driving the other person away or crashing the next relationship because you are simply not ready.
God has good reasons for delays. Truly, He does. We may not always understand what He’s doing or why, but God wants us to obey his commands—not because He is a tough taskmaster, but to protect us and guide us. In learning obedience, we also learn wisdom.
Like the wisdom of keeping your hands off the cocoon of an emerging butterfly. While you may want to help, it is not wise to pry it open for the little creature. He needs to emerge on his own, and the struggle builds strength as he exits his temporary shelter—otherwise he will die.
So we need to know when to keep our hands off and trust God’s timing for things to unfold.
So how do you learn to wait—and wait well?
Have you ever noticed that often God is not in a hurry? In Bible we see a number of examples, like Joseph, a young man sold by his own brothers. He lived in slavery (and at times, prison) for 17 years before he rose to a powerful position in Egypt. Jacob labored for 20 years before he was released from Laban’s labor in order to earn marriage to Rachel.
God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry because He is not on our timetable, we are on His.
God is God, and we will never fully know His reasons. But we can take comfort in the fact that He is good, loving and faithful—and he is always at work, even in the dark, putting together the pieces of our lives for His good purposes.
During seasons of waiting in our lives we can remember that:
Waiting is active. Waiting is more than just passing time; and it is not doing nothing. The work of waiting is believing God. Not just believing in God, but believing He will provide what is best for you.
Know on whome you wait: God, not man. God had good purposes, so your waiting is not in vain. You don’t have to be afraid that God will forget. He knows your heart and your desires. "My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken." (Psalm 62:5-6)
Waiting is for a purpose. God uses the seemingly dead times in our lives to heal, replenish and prepare our hearts for the next season in our lives. Think of your heart as a fallow field. Like the farmer who leaves his land crop-free for a season, your heart may feel barren or blank, but it’s only for a time. Leaving the land empty replenishes the soil and replaces the nutrients so a better, healthier crop grows the next time. In the same way, your “in the meantime” can be a time to heal and replenish your own heart land and, in time, gather a better and healthier yield in how you handle relationships—and life.
Waiting draws us closer to God. Enduring delay builds intimacy and a closer relationship with Him. In our weakness, God is strong and His strength precedes victory.
Bottom line? Waiting means TOTAL dependence on God—not a little bit of dependence when I felt like it—but complete reliance on God.
Total dependence on God means that we are not so full of pride to think we can do this life on our own.
Sure when times are tough, we cry out for help. But when things are looking up, you might find yourself thinking you can do life on your own. “I’ll take it from here, God,” you think, “I’ve got it covered.” Really? When we don’t see anything happening, we may foolishly step out and try to make things happen on our own.
We can be confident but not prideful, secure but not foolish.
There’s a lot to be said about the fine art of waiting…so tune in tomorrow for more.
Guess you’ll just have to wait. :)
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. Her hope-filled and encouraging books include "Power Prayers for Women," "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" and "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times." Jackie also writes the Living Single blog on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk website.